The son of chocolate chip cookie magnate Wally “Famous” Amos and night club singer Shirl-ee May Ellis, Amos is dedicated to continuing, extending and spreading the tradition of the blues with unsurpassed fervor and emotional expression. Born in New York City, raised up on the gritty Sunset Strip in the seventies and preceding his performing career with many successful musical ventures, Amos breaks nearly every cliché with his talent and unstoppable drive. We caught up with Shawn to talk about his current single and some of his favorite things!
Good Afternoon Shawn! Thank you so much for talking with Battered and Brewed!
Always happy to talk about music and food.
Growing up in California, what was your favorite family recipe?
I was a quintessential latchkey kid. I grew up on Hamburger Helper at home. The only recipe in my family was my dad’s cookie recipe. He also made really excellent pancakes.
Who got you interested in cooking? And whose cooking style is your biggest influence?
I purchased my first home in 2012 and finally had a real kitchen. I also wanted my kids to develop healthy eating habits. I honestly just troll recipe sites to challenge myself and learn. I’ll rotate through different cuisines learning the idiosyncrasies of each.
Now that you have a family, any family traditions you have started?
Every Sunday (when I’m not on the road), I go to my local farmers market, bring home food and make brunch. My 15-year old daughter and I also cook together. We build menus together and share cooking duties.
How has fatherhood changed or not changed your eating habits?
I’ve become pretty obsessed with reading labels. I also eat more raw food than ever. I make a point to keep fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables out on the table all day.
What first sparked your love of music? Was there a particular record you remember?
Oh man, music has always been around. My mom always sang around the house, my dad was a music agent and manager. The earliest albums I bought were Elton John and The Who. I was very much into British rock and singer-songwriters.
Do you have a music playlist you listen to when cooking?
Old school blues always. But my daughter co-opts the playlist regularly which is a good thing. It forces me to listen to current music. She turns me onto some good bands.
Tell us about one memorable meal you’ve had during your travels. What did it involve?
I just got back from a 3-week tour of Europe and had the most amazing meals. I got introduced to Stamppot in The Netherlands. It’s a traditional meal of potatoes and greens. Very basic, but lovely. I also had an insane 7-course lunch at an Amsterdam restaurant called Choux. I also had Tajine (a Moroccan dish) for the first time in France. It included a baked lemon, which blew my mind.
Is there anywhere you have wanted to travel or a restaurant you have always wanted to dine in that you have not yet? Or somewhere you cannot wait to get back to?
I’m a huge fan of the Netflix series, Chef’s Table. I want to visit every restaurant in that series.
How do you maintain a balance of eating healthy while on the road? Anything you avoid or try to avoid so you can keep fit?
My biggest challenge is eating enough. I will tend to skip a meal rather than eating something I don’t enjoy. In general, I stay away from dairy and fried food (except frites which I cannot avoid). I also stopped drinking alcohol about 9 years ago which helps a lot.
What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
Doughnuts. I’m a doughnut junkie. And snob.
For fun, can you give an example of a “typical day” of eating for you, whether you are going out with friends or cooking at home.
I wake up and make steel cut oatmeal topped with honey and fresh berries or banana. Lunches are usually the one meal I consistently eat in a restaurant. I always look for a fish option. I typically need an afternoon chocolate fix. Dinner varies depending on where I am. On weekends at home, I make a lot of comfort food.
What are 3 things you can always find in your kitchen?
Lots of fresh fruit, fresh bread, and hummus.
One food everyone tells you to try, but you just can’t get up the nerve.
Oysters. It just freaks me out. I’m a real seafood prude.
Tell us little about the “Kitchen Table Blues.”
We’ve posted nearly 100 weekly episodes of “Kitchen Table Blues” on YouTube. It began really organically. I started inviting friends over to my house on Sundays to make them brunch. I got hooked on trying out different menus on friends. I also really enjoy hosting and presenting food. Some bandmates and musician friends would hang out afterwards to play around the kitchen table and I thought it would be a cool idea to very simply and spontaneously capture it. There’s purposely very little planning. One camera and no edits. We quickly learn a song and play it. We’ve started to take it out of my kitchen and visit other homes and restaurants. It’s been a fun way to bring my love of food and music together.
How do you take time for yourself to decompress and get outside?
I love to hike. My kids make sure I get outside. My son and I are campers.
You’ve been involved with music for the better part of your life, what keeps you inspired by it?
Music is the only way I know to fully connect with my heart and my spirit. It’s my best self. In many ways, I mark time by the moments in between making music.
Is there any (metaphorical) correlation between the style of the music that you play and the kinds of food you enjoy eating?
Absolutely. Blues is some of the most elemental music ever created. I like music and food that are free of anything that gets in the way. Simple ingredients. Simple presentation.
Tell us a little about what you have coming up musically?
I’ll be returning to Europe next year. I’m also writing new material and hope to get in the studio soon. I also want to keep bringing “Kitchen Table Blues” to new kitchens.
Your song/video, “You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I Get Home),” that just came out in April is fantastic! What is the story behind that song?
Thanks. The video was the vision of a brilliant producer, Nicole Alexander. The song began with the title, which made me laugh, and felt part of the tradition of blues done-me-wrong songs.
Finally for Battered and Brewed, if you could sit down and have a meal with one person, who would it be and where would you go?
I’d be into having dinner with Buddy Guy at Red Rooster in Harlem.
About Reverend Shawn Amos:
The son of chocolate chip cookie magnate Wally “Famous” Amos and night club singer Shirl-ee May Ellis, Amos is dedicated to continuing, extending and spreading the tradition of the blues with unsurpassed fervor and emotional expression. Born in New York City, raised up on the gritty Sunset Strip in the seventies and preceding his performing career with many successful musical ventures, Amos breaks nearly every cliché with his talent and unstoppable drive. The album marks the producing debut of 2x Grammy nominee, Mindi Abair.
The Reverend Shawn Amos attributes his diverse background to growing up in the colorful Hollywood landscape. Prior to becoming a blues preacher — and ordained minister with the Universal Life Church —Amos was an A&R executive at Rhino Entertainment and vice president of A&R at Shout! Factory, where he produced and recorded multiple Grammy-nominated projects. He produced broadcast, DVD and audio titles for legacy artists ranging from Heart to Quincy Jones, for whom Amos later ran the Listen Up Foundation. Throughout Amos’ childhood and adulthood, his mother suffered from schizoaffective disorder and ultimately committed suicide in 2003. The trauma of the event and his subsequent discovery of her early singing career were the inspiration behind his 2005 album release, Thank You Shirl-ee May. Amos has released five albums of music, including his 2014 release, The Reverend Shawn Amos Tells It, a collection of blues originals and covers that received much acclaim from the blues & roots world, and the sophomore blues album The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You.
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